The greatest mysteries of the forest always lie within something you cannot see. The inside of clouds? Nobody truly knows what is going on in there. Rocks? It is impossible to truly understand them (at least through their insides). I had no idea what was inside a tree until I slept in a log by accident once. It involves a lot of bugs and wood, though, I can tell you that much.
That brings me to turtles. No other creature in the forest is so forward with its limbs while being so mysterious about its belly/back/torso area. On one paw, I feel like I know a lot about turtles: they move slowly; they like to eat leaves like I do; they smell interesting; and they look like they generally enjoy life and the forest. On the other paw, I feel like nobody knows anything about turtles except for other turtles.
When a turtle slides its pointy head into its shell, there is no telling where it goes or why it goes there or for how long it will be there. Asking is no help, of course, since they usually respond to queries by going into their shells.
So what is going on in there?
I have a few guesses, but they are really just that. Maybe the inside of the shell is their true home, and it is where they stash their collections of wonderful forest treasures (leaves, rocks, etc.). Or perhaps they go into the shell mainly to get out of the sun, which can be very hot and uncomfortable from time to time. Part of me hopes the shell is just a decoration, something turtles get at an early age that they customize as they get older.
Like I said, it does smell nice, so there is that.
Not knowing about turtles and their shells is frustrating. I like to relate to other creatures of the forest as best as I can, but with turtles, it seems nearly impossible. I want to know what it is like to have a shell on my belly/back/torso area. I want to know the purpose of having a shell other than the nice smell.
To try to emulate the experience, I have often pretended that my cave was a kind of shell for me. I poke my head and my forearms outside the front entrance of my cave and pretend I am traversing through the forest, understanding the plight of the turtle.
It is not very… authentic, but I feel like I have to try.
But maybe that is the truth about the turtle shell: I am not supposed to understand it. After all, I am not a turtle. I do not have a shell, and I never will. And maybe it is okay to not be able to truly understand something about someone else, no matter how interesting you might find it. After all, there are probably things the turtle would like to know about bearness that the turtle could never understand. Maybe one day one will ask me about them.
If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site?
For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@